President . . .
I remember reading a study years ago suggesting that by 2020 hunting would be all but a memory, with few hunters left to manage our wild game. It didn’t happen. Yes, there are fewer hunters but hunting is still going strong in most areas.
Sometimes I think these expert number-crunchers either don’t hunt or don’t understand why we hunt. Yes, from a practical standpoint, very few people “need” to hunt any more. It really is cheaper and easier to get our meat at the grocery store. So why do we go, week after week, hot or cold, rain or shine? And why bowhunt? Why make it harder than it already is – on purpose??
Big antlers? Perhaps for some, but unless you hunt in a special place and are extremely lucky, giant antlers aren’t a likely outcome, although the possibility of slaying a trophy is sometimes a motivation for rolling out of bed at 3:30AM. But the reward for harvesting a big buck is rarely fortune and fame. It’s usually just the self-satisfaction of having done it.
So what is it then that keeps us hunting? I believe it’s the challenge combined with a great reason to spend more time outdoors enjoying the wonders of nature. And the greater that challenge, the greater the personal reward. That’s why, compared to easier ways of hunting, bowhunting was the fastest growing segment of the big game hunting population, until crossbows diluted that group. Although it seems difficult for some to understand: a big reason we bowhunt is because it’s not easy.
WBH has seen many changes over our 78 year history, and we continue to evolve as bowhunting and the world continues to change. As most of you know, Jean Conradt, our long-time and excellent office manager is leaving to enjoy a very well-deserved retirement. Because of recent efficiencies, many of them developed with Jean’s help, we believe the office can operate effectively on a more limited time schedule. With that in mind, the office will now be open five days a week, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Also, I am very pleased to announce that we have hired a new office manager. Her name is Julie Rettler. Julie and her husband recently moved to the area from southeastern Wisconsin. She brings a wealth of experience and a great attitude to WBH. Julie has been working alongside Jean for the last two months. There’s a lot to learn, especially leading up to our convention in March. As noted, Julie is at the office every work day from 10 to 2. If you’re in the area or have occasion to call, be sure to introduce yourself and give Julie a big WBH welcome.
Another new program for WBH is our new Benefactor Program. We have had members ask how the can support and be more a part of the work that we do. We hope the Benefactor Program will provide additional opportunities and look forward to active participation by the membership.
Finally, I’d like to give a shout-out to some of our life members and friends that are using archery and bowhunting as a way to give back to their community. Edgewood Archers is a relatively small club located between Marathon and Merrill, Wisconsin. They run a summer league on their wheelchair accessible range, and each year for the past 25 years they have held a memorial fundraising shoot. It’s a big undertaking but almost all the proceeds go right to their local community. This year they again donated $1,000 to Aspirus Hospice, $1,000 to Wheel-‘Em-In, a local group that provides hunts for the disabled and $500 to the Hamburg Fire Department hunter safety program. Not bad for a group of bowhunters.
Although the results will be well known by the time this magazine comes out, I’ve just seen the preliminary harvest numbers from this year’s gun season. A huge drop, particularly in buck harvest. In fact there wasn’t a single county in the whole state that didn’t see a drop in buck harvest despite the DNR’s prediction that the deer herd is at almost record levels. There will be a lot of finger pointing over the next few months.
Some will blame the lateness of the season, but the weather was almost perfect opening weekend, and the harvest was off on those days as much as it was for the whole season. And anyone that thinks the rut is over by the later part of November should spend more time in the woods. Still others will blame bowhunters, although our numbers and harvest have declined significantly in the last few years. Of course the major variable that has changed in the last few years is crossbows.
As we have said all along, sooner or later something has to change. Al-lowing a rifle-type weapon for two months before the rifle season changes everything. Many of Wisconsin’s deer hunting traditions have been turned upside down, and unfortunately the longer we wait to provide a balanced opportunity, the worse it will get.
Almost laughably, some in the DNR have suggested “they will just have to make new traditions,” apparently not understanding what tradition means. Unfortunately, instead of changing, many deer hunters will find something else to do.
I hope you will be coming to our upcoming convention in the Dells. We have some entertaining and educational seminars lined up, head and trophy displays, bow-hunting products and exhibitors, and of course a great banquet; and that’s just on Saturday! Our Annual Membership Meeting will be held on Sunday morning as usual. Chula Vista is a terrific venue and a great family destination. Waterpark passes come with every room, or can be purchased separately for day guests, so bring the family. See you there!